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electoral playing field in Zimbabwe - August 2004
Opinion Institute (MPOI)
October 27, 2004
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survey finds that
- A significant
number (37%) of potential voters are not registered as voters.
- 50% of respondents
have not received any voter education at all.
- There is
a worrying level of lack of awareness of the proposed electoral
reforms. Only 17% of the people interviewed are aware of these
- A slight
majority (54%) is not supportive of the powers the reforms give
to the President to appoint the chairperson of the Independent
- Most Zimbabweans
want their fellow Zimbabweans abroad to be allowed to cast their
- Given the
problems encountered during the presidential election in 2002,
when large numbers of people were unable to cast their vote, most
respondents are not supportive of the idea to limit voting to
- Opinion is
almost split on the intended use of transparent ballot boxes,
with 53% of the respondents in support
- An overwhelming
majority (73%) is in favour of counting ballot papers at the polling
stations at which they would have been cast.
- While a majority
(51%) says the reforms proposed would level the playing field,
46% also say AIPPA and POSA should be repealed.
- Over half
of the respondents interviewed report electoral offenses, with
violence and intimidation being the most prevalent.
- 64% of all
the people interviewed are not in favour of the opposition boycotting
the elections if their reform demands are not met. Further analysis
shows that 54% of those who indicated they are MDC supporters
do not favour an election boycott.
the year 2000 Zimbabwe has been at the centre of the world’s attention.
The rejection of the draft constitution resulted in the land occupations
and the most closely fought election in the history of this country.
In 2002 came the presidential election and with it arguably the
best voter turnout since the 1980 election. For the first time in
the history of elections in this country the voting period was extended
due to the large number of people who had not cast their vote by
the end of the initial two day voting period.
elections had their share of controversy but at the root of all
the discussion that was generated was the issue of the state of
the electoral playing field. The parliamentary election resulted
in a total of 37 court cases that challenged the outcome. In addition
the 2002 presidential election results are themselves a subject
of litigation. To date none of these cases have been finalized.
Zimbabwe heads for the 2005 parliamentary election, the issue of
a level playing field has again been thrust into the limelight.
The MDC began the "sparring" by submitting a fifteen point
petition demanding the leveling of the playing field. Later condensed
into five key demands, these were:
- Restore the
rule of law
- Restore basic
freedoms and rights
an independent electoral commission
- Restore public
confidence in the electoral commission, and
- Restore secrecy
to the ballot
as if to pull the rug from under the feet of the MDC, then announced
its intention to introduce "key" changes to the electoral
system. The ruling party proposed the setting up of an independent
electoral commission whose chairperson would be a presidential appointee,
voting in one day, the use of transparent ballot boxes and the counting
of votes at the polling stations at which they would have been cast.
this political maneuvering the SADC held a meeting in Mauritius
where the regional body came up with principles and guidelines for
democratic elections. Primarily, these guidelines say that member
states should ensure full participation of their citizens in the
political process. In a further twist to the whole issue the MDC
suspended its participation in all elections in the country until
government adopts the SADC principles and guidelines.
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